The registration of a trademark for a podcast is very much like the registration of a trademark of any other business. The brand name, the logo, and the tagline have to be registered by mentioning the class details accurately.
Gone are the days when people had all the time on earth to sit and read through voluminous books. Times have changed, and so should we. Podcasts are the new age books or more precisely the new age audiobooks. A podcast is simply an audio program wherein the user gets to subscribe and have it installed on a smartphone. Once subscribed or downloaded, the audio files can be listened to at any time, say even while shuttling to work. Podcasts are now on top of the list among several media formats. There is a notion that podcasts would soon push off the radio from the earth’s surface. True to that belief, a few famous radio programs like ‘This American Life’ have now been converted into podcasts.
Podcasts, being no different than books or any other works of literature, it is only obvious that a podcast by itself is a property of one’s intellect. Regardless of whether a podcast is started as a hobby or as a source of income, there are intellectual property rights vested in it. Although patent rights may be far-fetched, trademarks and copyrights go hand-in-hand in podcasts. Apart from copyrights and trademarks, some podcasters do show a keen interest in trade secret protection and have hance started to use non-disclosure (NDA) agreements for that purpose.
Trademark Registration for Podcasts:
Coining an impressive name to the podcasts is one of the first hurdles that podcasters face. The next biggest challenge is to guard the name thus coined.. The only way to stay safe is by registering the trademarks at the earliest. Podcasters invest a great amount of time in building their brand and content, but failing to protect it, could render all their hard work futile. In addition to a name, most podcasters come up with logos and taglines as well, to differentiate their brand from the others in the market. These brand collaterals often help podcasters in marketing their content. Therefore, it is only ideal to trademark the logo and tagline along with the brand name.
In order to register the trademark, the podcasters must consider the following:
Check the Availability of the Name:
While podcasters intend to protect their own brand name, care has to be taken to see that they do not infringe any existing trade names. A thorough trademark search would help them accomplish this. It has to be kept in mind that trademarks subsist in brands that are unregistered as well. Therefore, a trademark belongs to the one who first started to use the trademark and not to the one who was first to file it.
Choosing a Unique Name:
Although a creator has the liberty to come up with any name for the creation, it would be appreciable if it is unique for two obvious reasons. One, it is very rare that such names are infringed and two, the chances that this name infringes an existing trademark are also less. Even picking a name remotely similar to an existing trademark could land the podcaster in troubled waters. Merely changing the spelling, and adding a couple of ‘A’s and ‘E’s here and there of an existing trademark would still be treated as infringement, unfortunately.
Further, coming up with common words and claiming ownership of them would be pure injustice to others. Therefore, podcasters have to get their heads down to coin new words as their brand names. These names are best protected and have the least chance of being infringed. The brand IKEA, for instance, is a coined trademark. Likewise, many established businesses have brand names that literally had no meaning initially and the same can be put into practice here.
Is it Mandatory to File a Trademark?
The answer is No! It is not compulsory to file a trademark for podcasts or any business for that matter. Once a podcast is published with a name and with or without a logo, a trademark has been created. The podcaster now has an intellectual property at hand, provided the work and brand name are original. By using the letters ‘TM’ the author can notify others that a trademark right subsists in the name and it has not been registered. That being said, the best practice however is to get the brand name registered, as it becomes easier to handle the issue in case of an infringement. It has to be kept in mind that unregistered trademarks get protection through common law and not through the Trademarks Act, 1999. When the trademark is registered it is much easier for the plaintiff to prove the case.
Is it Mandatory to Hire a Lawyer to File a Trademark?
The answer again is No. Yet, it is preferable to hire one simply because an expert can handle the process of registration reasonably well. A trademark search has to be conducted before registration to ensure the uniqueness of the name. A trademark lawyer will be the right person to carry it out. Applications filed by lawyers are more likely to be successfully registered.
- The applicant has to carry out a thorough trademark search with the name of the podcast before making an application
- Once the search is done and the name is decided, the applicant must file an application with the name spelled out correctly, along with taglines and logo. The correct class has to be mentioned in the application. For podcasts, the class according to NICE classification could be class 9 (MP3 files that can be downloaded) or class 41 (entertainment services)
- The application form along with the necessary documents should be submitted to the Controller General’s Office of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks. An application number is assigned by the Trademark Registry, using which the status of the application can be tracked online
- The Trademark registry, thereafter, reviews the application and it can be unanimously accepted or rejected based on the case. If there should be any discrepancies, the same is mentioned in the examination report
- If the applicant satisfactorily answers the questions thus raised, the trademark is accepted and registered. If not, a hearing is scheduled
- If the application is accepted, the trademark is published in the trademark journal
- If there are no objections from the public, after the publication in the journal, the trademark registration certificate is issued to the applicant.